Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Wednesday met his Sri Lankan counterpart, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, and pledged to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
Earlier on Wednesday, Szijjártó announced the largest Hungarian road construction project which is getting under way in South Asia. Betonútépítő is building two large motorway overpasses near Sri Lanka’s capital as part of a 20 billion forint (EUR 56m) development, the ministry said in a statement. Szijjártó noted that the government supports Hungarian companies entering international markets. Hungary’s Eximbank is backing the investment which is expected to conclude by October 2023. “We now have a success story … with the largest Hungarian road-building project in this part of the world,” he said. Metal structures for the construction are being made in Nyíregyháza, while their delivery will take place in March.
At the joint press conference with Peiris, Szijjártó said cutting-edge technologies implemented by numerous Hungarian companies gave them a competitive edge internationally, opening up investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Besides infrastructure development, Hungarian printing and water management companies are also present in the country, he said. A recently reconstructed water purifying plant has given 2 million people access to clean drinking water. While many development projects worldwide have fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian government is supporting Hungarian companies present on foreign markets to prevent further losses, he said.
The ministers have agreed to convene the second meeting of their economic committee as soon as possible and to speed up talks on the elimination of double taxation to ensure “fair and honest cooperation”, Szijjártó said. Starting this year, Hungary is also offering 20 scholarships to Sri Lankan students wishing to study in Hungary, he said. “We have always been fair, honest and reliable partners. We have not interfered in each other’s internal affairs, we’ve never criticised each other, and we’ve supported each other in international organisations; and we wish to carry on that way in the future,” Szijjártó said.
Peiris praised Hungarian economic development and said his country was on track to implement similar projects, which made robust cooperation and knowledge exchange very important. During the visit, Szijjártó also met Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as the ministers of commerce, education and highways.